I stumbled upon a huge opportunity for librarians who want to showcase their services to children and I wrote about it in my most recent blog post over at Public Libraries Online. And, in the process, gain exposure in their community and increase awareness of the importance of libraries in a child’s life. Libraries can make such a difference in the life of a child. Well, I won’t recreate my post here, so head on over to Public Libraries Online to read more. #tycttld
I finally carved out a few minutes to read the most recently posted, “Do People Need Libraries in the Digital Age?” by Christopher John Farley (02/14/2014, WSJ). Farley begins his opinion piece by endearing his library readers with, “Libraries, for me, have always been portals to unexpected places” which rang so true for me. He discusses ancient libraries like the Great Library of Alexandria which survived over 500 years because it was constantly innovating–something that libraries of today should model. Farley notes that libraries, in order to thrive (and survive) must continue to utilize technology and perhaps try new services such as assisting their customers in managing personal data (photos, unsorted emails). He suggests that public librarians also offer themselves as info guides (like an advanced advanced search)–most do currently.
Another concept that has caught some ground is “living libraries” where libraries connect their patrons with experts in a particular subject. Some libraries have been known to catalog these experts in their library catalog, or have the expert stationed in the library available to anyone seeking information in their field. Farley writes that Google launched “helpouts” connecting people with experts like we have seen “living libraries.” (For more information about human books see Human Library).
For libraries to survive: innovate (check), technology (check), explore new services (check). Yep, libraries need to do all that to survive and then some. They also need a few more things like: adequate budgets (for all that technology), adequate staffing (for all those innovative programs)–and they need more people like Farley who can advocate for the importance of libraries and the critical role they play in every community within the United States.
I would challenge anyone who says they don’t need a library to ask themselves the following questions. Maybe today I don’t need a library but…
- does my community need a library?
- do the children and their parents of my community need a library?
- do the people in my community without disposable income need a library?
- do the people who do not have home computers or Internet access at home need a library?
Advocate for your libraries. Support them by utilizing their services, volunteer in your library, serve on your town’s advisory board, support their budgets and help their Friends of the Library organization raise money. If you don’t use the library, you can still support its mission because it supports the educational needs of your community.